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Messages - staehpj1

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I used to insist on having a big top gear and a low enough low to make it up the climbs.  These days I have found that I don't care so much about the high gear being all that high.  I have also begun to care less about super low gears, but that is because I have started to practice a very minimalist and light packing style.

My last long paved road tour (Southern Tier) I went with a 39/26 and a 12-28 (a range of about 25-48 gear inches) carrying 14 pounds base gear weight and was very happy with the choice.  The 39/26 was a triple with the big ring left off. 

Since then I have spent quite a bit of time on a 2x10 mountain bike and based on my experience with that setup I might go with either a 1x10 or a 2x10 if I were setting up a touring bike from scratch.  I think I'd actually favor the 1X10 (or maybe even a 1x11)

Some of the new MTB clusters are really super wide range.  Enough so that a 1x10 really can work fine for just about any road conditions.  I think that if I were starting from scratch I'd consider a 1x10 with an 11-42 MTB cluster and what ever ring gave me the low gear I wanted.

All that said...  In your case I'd probably just go to a MTB double and stick with the 12-32 unless your current crank can take appropriate sized rings.  I'd err on the side of closer spaced rings and accept a lower high gear.  How low would depend on the load and the terrain.  At 60 pounds of gear, in the mountains you will likely need to go lower than I normally would with my lighter load.

Routes / Re: Road 395 south in USA?
« on: September 29, 2016, 07:06:44 am »
Is it important to you that your bike tour is continuous?  If not you might consider taking a train of bus to the coast and riding down the coast in October.  Getting there sooner rather than later is likely to make for better weather.  You will get rained on some, but it probably won't be too bad in October.

I'd expect fairly tough conditions on US395 when you would be there.  Probably some pretty cold weather and snow fairly likely at some point.

General Discussion / Re: Restricted Items on Amtrak ("flammable" etc.)
« on: September 21, 2016, 06:06:54 am »
I've taken chain lube, cooking alcohol and a multitool on Amtrak.
Me too.  Additionally I have taken isobutane canisters and not had any issues.  It didn't occur to me that I might be in violation at the time, but on hindsight I'd do it again.  I'd just be ready to have those items confiscated in the unlikely event that they became an issue.  Unless things have changed recently or other stations are very different than the ones I used, it isn't much of a concern.

General Discussion / Re: southern tier
« on: September 17, 2016, 09:06:07 am »
ColoradoGuy, you did two routes across the southern part of the United States, but, in my understanding, neither route was the "Southern Tier" Route. At least in my vocabulary, "Southern Tier" specifically describes the ACA route.
Fair enough.

Personally, I like to pick my own route and not do some "standard route" that thousands of other people have done. Good luck to you!

Both ways have their advantages.

Picking your own route definitely has a certain appeal.  Taking a more standard route has advantages as well.  I like the fact that you tend to meet more other cyclists on ACA routes and it isn't like the ST was over run or crowded with other cyclists (I only met a few).  Meeting one here and there was a nice perk IMO.  Also I tend to be lazy about pre-planning routes and prefer to head out without having to do a lot of detailed route planning.  The ACA routes make that more easy to manage since I only have to look ahead a day or two in making daily decisions.  To me that is an attractive middle ground between making a detailed plan of the whole route and just winging it from the start.

Some times I take an ACA route and sometimes I don't.  Most often I do an ACA route and wing it for some sections where the mood strikes.  I find that, for me, can sometimes be the best of both worlds.

General Discussion / Re: southern tier
« on: September 15, 2016, 11:13:18 am »
I really appreciate your comments.  YMMV? I could do the last bit by myself..I'll think about it...
YMMV = Your mileage may vary

General Discussion / Re: southern tier
« on: September 15, 2016, 09:44:35 am »
My daughter be supporting me for the first 3 weeks, and my wife for the last  3.  Its up to me to get from one to the other and I have only 8 weeks before I have to be back at work.  If I don't finish, then I  won't.  Might have to go back and finish some time later in the year, but I don't  want to start with that attitude.
My biggest concern for you was avoiding a medical emergency alone on the more remote sections that are lacking in services.  Having someone along for the first three weeks might get you past the worst of that though.  Of course it depends on your pace, but I didn't start out super fit at the start and hit San Antonio on day 21, so that may work out well for you.

Also the route starts out fairly hard and has some fairly tough sections, but on average I found it a route conducive to averaging a high daily mileage.  I wound up doing way more 80, 90, and 100+ mile days than I usually do, so it might not be out of the question to finish in six weeks removing your need to go with no sag.  If not, can you possibly have your wife sag for the first three weeks, your daughter for the second three weeks, and have no sag for the remainder?  Or are you depending on your daughter for a ride home?

Finishing in eight weeks should be fairly easy if your daily pace is reasonable and you do not take a bunch of zero mile days and 6 weeks isn't out of the question.  You only need to average 54 mile days to finish in 8 weeks and I personally would not ride this route if I didn't think I could manage that.  The route, in my opinion is one where you want to be cranking out miles.  There just isn't much in the way of distractions and services are widely space at times, so it just isn't the type of route where I would be likely to dilly dally much.  Of course YMMV.

General Discussion / Re: One piece earphone while riding
« on: September 15, 2016, 08:16:31 am »
I do not often wear earbuds while riding, but will say that I have not found them to block my hearing much if the volume isn't cranked too high.  My rule of thumb is that if I can't hear the tires of passing cars well before they reach me on a low traffic road I wouldn't take the chance or would look for different ear buds.  I have worn them for many hours of trail running and always found that I could hear a faster runner approaching quietly behind me.

Most of the time I just play music in my head or even sing out loud when on tour if I want music, but there have been times when an audio book was a nice thing.  Crossing the emptiness of West Texas or Kansas I think that sometimes listening to something actually kept me more awake and alert.

People tend to have pretty strong opinions on this topic.  I do not other than to say that if it makes you oblivious to your surroundings you shouldn't do it.  If you are still alert and can hear cars approaching from behind I wouldn't consider it a bad thing.

General Discussion / Re: southern tier
« on: September 14, 2016, 04:17:23 pm »
I guess my worry is how my body will cope with riding day in and day out for so long.  In October, we are riding across North Carolina --7 days, 550 miles-- with real mountains so  I  should  get an idea what that will feel like.. My sense is that if I can do this, more will be possible
I think that if you ride sensible for you daily distances you will be fine.  Do be careful with managing your diabetes though as there are some pretty remote places where getting in trouble has higher penalties.  On the other hand in the more remote sections of the Southwest most people will stop to assist if they see someone in trouble.

I am kind of a minimalist packing as little as 12 pounds of gear for a camping and cooking trip.  So keep that in mind when reading my suggestions.

For a rain/wind jacket I usually go with a light DWR wind shirt and don't use a real rain coat.  I tend to be soaked either way, whether it is from the rain or sweat, so I just need to keep the wind chill off.  I have used a Stoic Wraith windshirt and more recently a Northface one.  They are in the 3-4 ounce range.  I didn't find either for sale just now when I did a google search though.  If I am somewhere that I expect a lot of rain I have carried a Dri Ducks emergency poncho (2.8 oz.) for in camp.

I have carried a 12 oz. down vest as a pillow, but I have grown attached to my Exped UL pillow (2 oz.) so I have not taken it the last few trips.  I do take a puffy down sweater sometimes but do not usually wear it while riding.  It is a Outdoor Research Filament Down Pullover and weighs 7.3 oz.

I really like my Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad.  It is super comfy, packs tiny and weighs only 12 oz.

Gear Talk / Re: Flying with synthetic luricant
« on: September 13, 2016, 07:09:11 am »
If there's a small bottle wrapped up in a ziplock bag and packed with toothpaste and deodorant, there's a good chance TSA won't notice it on X-rays and won't give you any guff about it.  Just be ready to toss it if TSA or Customs doesn't like it.
Do as Pat suggests and keep the bottle 2 ounces or less and you are unlikely to have a problem. It has worked for me.

On the other hand it is usually pretty easy to hit a bike shop in the first few days of a tour.  Barring that a hardware store or gun shop will probably have Boeshield T-9 or a walmart will have some suitable lube.

General Discussion / Re: southern tier
« on: September 12, 2016, 10:19:56 am »
I have never done anything like this before, so want as much information as possible.  I have the ACA maps and support (my daughter) for the the first 3 weeks.  Being almost 70, artificial hip and type 1 diabetic, I want to be as prepared as possible.. I am reading forums as I find them.
One other thing...  Starting in the west the route is pretty hard in the beginning.  If starting in the west, either make sure you are in good climbing shape from the start or plan to suffer getting away from the coast.

Starting in the east would have the advantage of letting you have plenty of time to ride into shape as you go if that is an advantage for you.

Routes / Re: Underground Railroad Route??
« on: September 12, 2016, 07:08:39 am »
I have not done the UGRR, but have done a good bit of touring and have looked at the route, so take this for what it is worth.

It would depend on how much cold you are willing to tolerate, how many miles you ride per day, and how short or long of notice you need at the start.  If you are doing long mileage days you might actually be able to plan based on the forecast at the time if you can go on short notice, otherwise i'd probably plan on not arriving at the end until around the end of March or the beginning of April.

Figure out how many days you will take, pick and end date and count back to pick a start date.  So if you will average around 60 mile days you can probably start around the end of February.  If you are on a slower pace you can start earlier (30 mile days would allow starting at least a month earlier).  If you are doing long days you need to start later.

Gear Talk / Re: Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« on: September 12, 2016, 06:49:10 am »
I prefer to fly with my bike when possible.  It simplifies things to not have to find my way to a place it was shipped to and arrive when they are open or to get a room.  I get a kick out of riding right out of the airport.  Getting to Astoria is an additional concern, some ride there from the airport and some use a bus or a rental car.  We rented a car and drove to Newport to start.

Before buying tickets, do take into account that airline charges for the bike can and do vary widely.  I try to fly Southwest when possible and avoid the less bike friendly airlines.  I typically go to Southwest's site if the price aggregators (Kayak, Expedia, etc.) don't show SW flights. 

I do find that for getting the bike home at the end of the tour I usually don't want to spend time boxing up the bike in a strange town, so on the way home I most often have a bike shop pack and ship it.  That has typically run $40-60 for the shop and $40-60 for the actual shipping.  The bikes shops typically get a much better deal on shipping than you will if you walk into UPS or FedEx store.

I have never traveled with a trailer though and really prefer not to so I probably never will.  Your preference for a trailer may shift the preferred method of getting it all to the start.

General Discussion / Re: southern tier
« on: September 12, 2016, 06:33:57 am »
ColoradoGuy, you did two routes across the southern part of the United States, but, in my understanding, neither route was the "Southern Tier" Route. At least in my vocabulary, "Southern Tier" specifically describes the ACA route.

I also see a lot of people use the term "TransAmerica" to describe any trip across America, but I don't subscribe to that terminology either.
I agree that the term Southern Tier or Trans America implies the ACA routes by that name.  I think it is confusing to use them as a generic term for any route across the South or across the US.  I do still use those names if i am doing mostly the ACA route even if I deviate a good bit, but not if I do an entirely different route.  That said, info from someone who rode different but similar routes can still be useful if they are in the same general geographic area.

To the OP, specifically what type of info are you looking for?  The ACA route description is a start, buying the ACA maps and perusing them will provide lots of specific info, and as has been mentioned there are tons of journals on including mine.  Those three things should pretty much cover it for most of the typical questions.

Routes / Re: Hammock Camping
« on: September 08, 2016, 11:59:39 am »
Hi, I'm in the beginning stages of a cross country trip. I plan on leaving early next June. I'm looking to go west to east and finish in Boston where I'm from. I'm leaning on a northern to mid country route. Has anyone hammock camped? Does anyone have a strong feeling one way or another between tent and hammock?

I always thought a tent was way more suitable for a coast to coast trip.  Unless you just really hate sleeping on a decent pad on the ground, I wouldn't consider a hammock.  My advice is to get a decent pad and a tent.

I have heard of a few folks that were die hard hammock users who managed, but tents are way more common on the coast to coast rides I have done.  I actually don't recall seeing anyone on the Trans America or the Southern Tier using a hammock.  I camped a lot of places where it would probably been either difficult or impossible to find a way to hang a hammock.  I suppose if you carry a pad too you could use it like a bivy when necessary, but I don't see much benefit to a hammock unless you really hate sleeping on the ground.

I did the ST with a bivy and found it OK, if a bit sweaty, when it was hot and the bugs ruled out cowboy camping.  Most folks find a bivy too confined though.

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